Friday, February 11, 2005

m-learning and smart phones

m-learning is the third thread I will be exploring on this blog. Having ventured into elearning territory by offering elearning courses on baking theory for apprentice bakers has provided me with concrete evidence that the majority of apprentices do not own computers. However, the vast majority of apprentices, own game consoles and cell phones. Therefore, exploring the concepts of m-learning and how the technology may be used to collect assessment evidence from apprentices is not too difficult a link to make.

There has been quite a lot of activity of late on the m-learning front. m-learning could be basically undertaken with several types of tools which include laptops with WiFi capability, pdas (personal digital accessories like Palm Pilots) and mobile phones. For the interim, I will be concentrating on exploring the use of ‘smart phones’. Smart phones vary in their capabilities but they are mobile phones with some or all of the pda’s capabilities. There are several reasons for choosing to hone in on smart phones:-

  • Most of the smart phone models look like phones and not like pdas.
  • They combine the capabilities of pdas – with the convenience of mobile phones.
    The operating systems used in most models of smart phones sync onto most PCs without complicated systems to be learnt and or circumvented.
  • Many smart phones also incorporate digital cameras, an important application for the purpose collecting evidence for use in assessments.
  • There are already existing pda OS based ‘learning management systems’ that can be purchased from a variety of vendors. These LMSs provide basic tools for students management, content distribution and assessment result collation.
  • We can learn from the experiences of several projects using cell phone technology, these include the original European m-learning project with much of the information disseminated via this m-learning development site, through to smaller research projects like Eviva.

m-learning is still relatively new territory to be getting into and the use of smart phones opens up more possibilities for everyone involved in education. There is an already established educational market for pdas in education. Smart phones provide the added opportunity to make use of principles for the social construction of learning to take place. Looks like exciting times ahead!

2 comments:

mspecht said...

Selena,

I like your perpective on mlearning, and personally I feel there is a great opportunity hear for both learners and "teachers". In fact as I wrote about this a couple of days ago around the release of Flash by Macromedia on the OS for many of the smart phones.

Selena said...

Hi mspecht,

Good news about the release of Flash on to the OS of many smart phones. Technology to offer mlearnng is still very much in it's early stages & having a 'mainstream' software product available on smart phones is surely a big step forward.

Selena